Every year in the NFL there is a weeding out process, where players are ultimately released or decide that it is time to announce that they have retired from the sport. Some of these retired players have done so on their own terms, while others go out kicking and screaming, wanting to hold on for another year or two longer. But their career had run its course, and nobody wanted to employ them any longer.
Some retirements are the result of father time, as players lose a step over the years. The body can only take so much physical abuse or punishment. Players start to react a little bit slower over the years, and for a game that can frequently come down to a matter of inches, those slower reactions can make all the difference in the world between winning and losing.
Then there are those players that walk away from the sport on their own terms. Hopefully they are going out on top as they have just won the Super Bowl and wish to leave while being considered to be at the top of their profession. Other players that retire too early have their own personal agendas, whether it is time to take on a second career, or perhaps they feel the need to spend more time with their family.
Some retirements are forced due to injuries where the player just can't perform the way he used to, because he physically can't. Keep in mind that as of the 2008 NFL opening-day rosters, the average age of an NFL player was only 26.68 years old. The average NFL career is just 3.5 seasons.
Whatever the reasons were for a player to quit too soon, we are going to look at 25 players in NFL history that we feel left the game too early. If you are aware of others that also could or should have been included in this group, please let us know in the comments.